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Chicomm Blog

Top 3 Trends of Two Way Radio in 2013

Posted by Jill McNamara on Monday, January 21, 2013

Top 3 Trends of Radio in 2013

With 2013 finally upon us, it is time to move forward with regard to radio. Last year lead to one of the largest years radio dealers have seen in 20 years, mainly due to the Federal Communications Commission's mandate for Narrowbanding all radio channels below 512 MHz. Narrowbanding created scheduling conflicts and made things hectic for those involved, but overall, it allowed us to revisit with all of our customers. Some abided by the mandate, took the proper steps and have completed narrowbanding. Some have not.  In addition to that, changes occurred with the D Block legislation that left the 470 MHz users on a freeze and rumors of a private LTE network for public safety left many questions unanswered as well. Looking ahead though, the future of two way radio remains to look bright, and here are 3 trends you’re sure to see this year.

Tags: Two Way Radios, MOTOTRBO, Narrowbanding, Digital Two-Way Radios

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Time is Up! Narrowbanding is Here

Posted by Jill McNamara on Wednesday, January 2, 2013

 If You Haven't Acknowledged the Mandate, You Are Operating Illegally

     Well, the narrowbanding countdown is officially over!!!! January 1st, 2013 has finally arrived. For those of you who did not complete the licensing modification, didn’t care or still DON’T HAVE A LICENSE, you are in violation. For all of us here at Chicago Communications, we will be continuing our campaign to inform you, entice you, prod you and help you get compliant. As of last count there were still nearly one third of all licensees who had not completed updating their licenses or achieved compliance yet. Some have worked hard and are waiting on the Commission to complete the applications for modification and some are still waiting on the physical backlog of programming or radio replacement from their radio shops.

Tags: Two Way Radios, Chicago Communications, Narrowbanding, FCC

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Attention:  Colleges, Universities, and K-12 Schools

FCC's Narrowbanding Mandate Affects You:  Deadline Quickly Approaching

Schools, colleges, and universities use two-way radios for campus safety and security, athletic departments, school bus management, and facilities management. In addition, two way radios are used to help coordinate everything from crowd control to event management. 

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has mandated that all public safety and business industrial land mobile radio systems operating in the 150-512 MHz radio bands must cease operating using 25 kHz efficiency technology, and begin operating using at least 12.5 kHz efficiency technology.  Migration to 12.5 kHz efficiency technology will allow the creation of additional channel capacity within the same radio spectrum, and support more users. The deadline for narrowbanding is January 1, 2013.  If you use wireless communications, other than your laptop, Bluetooth, or WiFi this mandate could affect you.

Tags: Two Way Radios, Chicago Communications, Wireless Communication, Narrowbanding

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As noted in my previous blog, I moderated a Narrowbanding Panel at the APCO Annual Conference on August 21.  Roberto Mussenden, the FCC Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau point of contact for narrowbanding, pointed out that there has been a lot of progress by licensees. Both the total number and the percent of public safety licensees that are still licensed at 25 kHz-only operation have been more than cut in half over the last two years. However, there are still about 35%, or roughly 37,000, licenses in the FCC database that are 25 kHz emission-only licenses.

     If you are one of these, you need to immediately submit to the FCC either (1) a license modification application to include 12.5 kHz or better emission designators, or (2) a waiver request to continue operating temporarily at 25 kHz beyond the Jan.  1, 2013 deadline.  The only exceptions are 12.kHz or 6.25 kHz equivalent efficient systems that operate on 25 kHz channels. Roberto emphasized that last-minute waiver requests will “be viewed with skepticism and not likely granted.” He also urged licensees to check their license data in the database and advise the FCC licensing bureau if there are any errors.  Finally, he let the attendees know that the FCC Enforcement Bureau will soon issue guidance reminding licensees of their obligation and of the FCC’s intent to aggressively enforce the mandate. That FCC Enforcement Advisory No. 2012-05 was indeed issued on August 22.

Tags: Motorola Solutions, Narrowbanding, FCC

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Tech Talk: Narrowbanding Help 101 

  1. First, get help! There's only FOUR months left until the deadline. To some of you that may seem like plenty of time, but let me tell you, if you haven't even started the process, you may be out of luck. In any case, the simplest thing to do at this point, especially if you have any questions, is to get help! Chicago Communications can submit both Public Safety and Industrial/Business narrowbanding applications, making it easy for you to accomplish your transition to narrowband operations. We will review your license and submit it directly to the FCC.  That means no third party is necessary to handle your license requirements, saving you a step
  2. Understand what it means...and find your license!     The thing you've probably been hearing over and over by now, (but is still worth repeating) is this: For those of you who have licenses with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and are operating in the frequency bands below 512Mhz, you will be required to replace or reprogram your entire radio system by January 1, 2013. The FCC has mandated that each license holder must reduce its bandwidth from 25Khz to 12.5Khz. Effectively cutting your current frequency in half thus creates a new channel. The current radio spectrum below 512Mhz is so congested, that there are not enough channels to go around. By reducing the bandwidth the FCC creates additional spectrum to use. So dig out your license and find out what specific requirements apply to you.
  3. Take action!  This means you need to take a current inventory of your radios throughout your system. For some commercial users this may be two portable radios, to some public safety agencies and towns, this may by two hundred radios. Either way, this inventory will allow the proper review by Chicago Communications to indicate which radios CAN and which radios CANNOT be narrowbanded. The general rule is if the radios were purchased/manufactured BEFORE 1997, they are not capable of being narrowbanded.
  4. Let us get to work! From these list we can generate a quotation to modify existing cable radios or replace radios that are not capable of narrowbanding.  Our field technicians can come on site to survey your equipment while the account representative will provide you with the best options available. Please note that this is NOT an option for you and your license. This is a REQUIRED action by the FCC. If not followed and found in violation of this you may be subject to fines after January 1, 2013.
  5. Time is running out! And as another note, DON’T WAIT! Similar to the transition of digital television, now that we are into the last few months, some radio shops may already be swamped with work trying to meet the deadlines.


Tags: Two Way Radios, Chicago Communications, Back-Up Plan, Narrowbanding

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Why You Should Be Worried If You  Don't Get (Narrowband) Compliant by January 1, 2013

In case you haven’t already heard it several times, we must remind you:

“By January 1, 2013, all VHF/UHF Industrial/Business and Public Safety Radio Pool licensees must operate on 12.5 kHz or narrower channels.” (FCC Public Notice)

So what’s going to happen if you don’t obey the rules and you choose to ignore the FCC mandate? As you may have guessed, it’s not going to be good. But let’s look at some specific penalties that have been set in place and then figure out how you can avoid them.

Tags: Public Safety Communications, Narrowbanding, FCC

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The Simple, One Step Narrowbanding Plan!

Posted by Jill McNamara on Tuesday, March 6, 2012
The Simple Plan for Narrowbanding in 2012

Plain and simple, most businesses don't realize the severity of what's on the way. The amount of companies or agencies that have not attempted to narrowband or even understand what it is are a huge concern of ours. Our daily searches on the FCC’s website lead to thousands of users  who have little knowledge of narrowbanding. With the deadline less than 10 months away, our concerns will be not only that people don't narrowband, but that those typical radio users may become an interferer (with regards to their frequency). On top of which leads to hefty monetary fines.

     Think of it this way, a good radio user today operating their same radio system next year may actually interfere with an adjacent carrier unbeknownst to them. One call from the adjacent user and the FCC discovers your channel is the interferer, a fine may be levied in an amount that was greater than what it took to narrowband. The approach of “Well, I didn’t know” will not cut it. This is the Federal Government sending out an employee to investigate something you may have not completed.

Tags: Radio System, Narrowbanding, FCC

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Tom's Tech Talk (#13): Coverage Solutions when Narrowbanding

    With the current mandate by the FCC to narrowband radio frequencies below 512MHz, we have observed coverage issues. Many engineering documents speak of loss of coverage anywhere from 3db to 6db in coverage. We have noticed a 3db loss in systems, especially if those systems have spotty coverage to begin with. We always use the rule if you have a full quieting RF signal now, you most likely won’t notice the change. If you have poor coverage in some locations, you will notice a difference. With that said, there are a few options available to choose from.

Tags: Wireless Communication, Tech Talk, Narrowbanding, FCC

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Narrowbanding: Time is Running Out!

Posted by Jill McNamara on Friday, November 11, 2011
   Don't have the time or interest to read through 5 or 10 pages of Public Notice procedural data about Narrowbanding? We're going to make it simple for you by cutting out what's somewhat important and highlighting what's most important! Here's what you need to know to make sure your radios operate after January 1, 2013:
  1. Who does it apply to? The mandate applies to all VHF and UHF Public Safety and Industrial/Business licenseees using land mobile radio (LMR) systems. For those of you who have licenses with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and are operating in frequency bands below 512 MHz, you will be required to replace or reprogram your entire radio system.
  2. Planning is key. Narrowbanding of your existing radio frequency is fast approaching! With the interface we have had with existing customers, the logistics takes a long time. In addition, purchasing of equipment and getting the programming lists correct is key!! I must urge you to not hesitate in putting a narrowband implementation strategy together. The longer you wait the longer everyone waits and the process may not be completed by the last day of 2012.

Tags: Two Way Radios, Wireless Communication, Narrowbanding, FCC

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Introduction to Narrowbanding for Two-Way Radios

Here at Chicago Communications LLC, we strive to improve the operational efficiency of our customers through innovative technology and information solutions. Check out our blog for the latest information about Chicago Communications, products and services, and industry news. You'll find new articles posted weekly.

Tags: Two Way Radios, Wireless Communication, Narrowbanding, FCC

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